KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Health leaders are sharing a message of caution following hopeful trends in the number of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations.
On Friday, The White House reported that nationally COVID-19 cases are down 40% in the last month and that hospitalizations are down 25%.
That pattern is also reflected locally with Kansas City metro hospitals reporting their least amount COVID-19 patients in treatment since the spring.
Receiving her second COVID-19 vaccination on Friday at the mass vaccination location in Kansas City, Kansas, Susan Tucker, a fitness instructor from Gladstone, said she waited to get fully vaccinated until now, but has been reflecting on getting sick earlier this year.
“I came back and I had COVID. I was feeling like a throbbing headache. And I had a slight fever. And my mom told me to go to urgent care because I was not feeling like going anywhere because I was kind of tired,” Tucker said.
She would be okay but mentioned a relative who died from COVID-19 around the same time.
These are all situations that people should remember, Brandi Dickerson said. She leads the mass vaccination site for the Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas Health Department.
“You know, it’s important to know that there are going to be peaks and valleys in any variant that we’re going to see. And certainly we did see an uptake with vaccinations when people started to be hospitalized again which is a good thing,” Dickerson said. “We need to stay on top of this – we’re going into the indoor season when we know people are in close quarters and we’re not there yet with the vaccination rate.”
At the University of Kansas Health System, doctors shared hopes while looking at relatively good COVID-19 patient numbers and trends.
“I think we have seen that our rolling seven-day average of cases in the metro area is going down. More importantly, I believe all of our hospital numbers are going down. That is important. We know that really the hospital numbers are the bellwether for how the cases are going,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist, during the regular KU Health Call on Friday.
So if all these factors are looking good, why are health leaders still pushing vaccinations?
“The more people who remain unvaccinated, the more opportunity for this virus to mutate as it passes through those unvaccinated individuals. So like we saw a peak in Delta. If we continue to see people unvaccinated then we are going to see other variants coming out. They’re called variants of concern,” Dickerson said.
Tucker says her main reason for getting vaccinated is her Saturday morning Zumba students.
“My whole class was like ‘Go get your second shot! Go get your second shot!’ So now I can tell them tomorrow in class that I finally got my second shot and they’ll cheer and stuff like that,” Tucker said. “I really don’t like getting shots like this but I felt like I had to because I do so much.”
The vaccination site is housed in a former Kmart store and has seen an increase in traffic recently mainly because of the new availability of the booster shots for older individuals.
Wyandotte County residents can find more specific information on hours and availability of vaccinations and tests online.